Detailed Expert Review
Panda has a massive range of security features, including file encryption settings, a VPN, anti-theft tools, parental controls, password manager… the list is almost endless! It includes features that I haven’t seen from most other antiviruses, including a “Virtual Keyboard” that safeguards against having your keystrokes traced by hackers.
I was concerned that Panda was trying to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” software — including many additional features to try and appeal to everyone, but not focusing enough on the performance or functionality of each feature.
I was disappointed by some of the additional features, but while I have a lot to say about them, I’m most concerned about the fundamental purpose of an antivirus — to protect my device from viruses and malware. What I found in my tests surprised me.
I’ve tested over 30 different antivirus programs, for both PC and Mac, and I found that Panda performed pretty well in most areas. However, I also think there are a lot of areas they could improve. After testing their antivirus and all of the additional features, here’s what I found.
Panda Security Features
Panda claims that its security software detects 100% of threats. While it performed well in my tests, some of my results weren’t what I was expecting.
My girlfriend and I both liked Panda’s home screen display (image above). It’s clean and well laid out — making it easy to navigate for non-tech-savvy users.
There are a huge range of security features, including a VPN, file encryption, recovery kit, and device optimization tools, but has Panda fallen into the trap of trying to include too many features that don’t really work that well?
I was pleased with the antivirus scanner’s detection rate. It managed to find over 95% of the PC ‘.exe’ malware files during my initial scan.
There are 3 scanning options:
- Critical areas. Scans PC memory, current processes, and other areas where viruses usually hide.
- Full scan. Scans the entire PC.
- Custom scan. Scans specific files and folders.
Panda says that they use Big Data and machine learning to proactively detect threats before they attack. But when I tested the real-time protection feature, it didn’t pick up on the other folder of sample malware files even though I left it running for about 20 minutes.
However, it did manage to block all but one of the malware sample files when I launched them. It also blocked 100% of the ransomware files that I launched.
The PC scanner was very inconsistent in terms of speed — I had one full scan running for over 3 hours, and it was only 60% complete — finally finishing over 5 hours later. The second full scan took just over 60 minutes. I noticed something quite weird too when I watched the scanning process — the scanner was 4% completed, but then retracted back to 2%. Maybe this is a bug that Panda needs to address.
For even more advanced virus scanning, Panda offers a cloud-based scanner named “Panda Cloud Cleaner” that can be accessed via the Rescue Kit section. This is a separate antivirus scanning engine that uses cloud-based technology to scan for more advanced threats that regular antiviruses may miss.
This cloud-based scan was really fast — much quicker than the regular antivirus scan. It picked up on 4 suspicious files that could have been malware. I tried researching the file names and found they didn’t need to be on my PC, so I removed them.
I was pleased with the speed and results of Panda Cloud Cleaner, but I’m not sure why Panda doesn’t just include cloud-based scanning as part of their regular antivirus scan, like Avira does. Other antiviruses like Avira and Bitdefender have integrated cloud-based scanning into their scanning engines — meaning I don’t have to spend time performing two separate scans.
I tried Panda’s macOS antivirus scanner on my Macbook and it was disastrous — nearly 6 hours later, it hadn’t even got half way through completing the full scan. Overall, Panda isn’t a good choice for Mac users. If you are looking for Mac antivirus, skip Panda and check out the best antiviruses for Macs.
File Encrypter & File Shredder
The file encryption tool was really easy to use. Panda uses Password Depot — a password manager that also offers file encryption tools. Once set up, I simply right-clicked on the files I wanted to encrypt, selected Password Depot 12 > Encrypt, and chose an encryption password to secure the files.
There’s also options to:
- Delete the original files after they were encrypted.
- Create a self-extracting archive, so people who don’t have Password Depot can also decrypt the files.
- Store the specific file decryption password in the Password Depot password manager.
I was also able to completely delete files from my PC using File Shredder — meaning the deleted files couldn’t be accessed by hackers using advanced hacking methods. This was useful as I had a few Microsoft Word docs that contained some of my account passwords. It was just as easy to erase these files as it was to encrypt them — I right-clicked on the Word doc file, selected Password Depot 12 > Erase, and then clicked Erase on the popup window.
My little brother managed to accidentally download some malicious files that installed multiple pieces of malware on his gaming PC — including spyware, trojans, worms, etc. You name it, he probably had it on his PC. This meant he could barely even boot his PC, let alone use it to game or browse online.
So, I used Rescue Kit to create a “rescue USB drive” — meaning I was able to plug in the USB to my little brother’s infected gaming PC, launch the PC, and remove any viruses or malware.
It was really easy to set up, taking less than a few minutes to install the Rescue Kit on my USB drive. It took around 20 minutes for the Rescue Kit to completely save my brother’s PC. It managed to detect and remove all of the malware — which was a huge relief!
I was pretty surprised at how something so effective was so easy to set up and use — great job, Panda!
Most other antiviruses, like Norton and Avira, don’t include a feature like this, so this is a huge selling point for me.
I’ve tested many device cleaning tools, and while I don’t think Panda’s tools are the best, they’re still useful.
I had 4 options:
- Free up space on my PC’s hard drive.
- Organize programs that launch on startup using Boot Manager.
- Defragment (reorganize) fragmented (unorganized) hard drives.
- Schedule a regular system cleanup.
The hard drive cleaning was pretty fast, finding over 1.2 GB of junk files in under 60 seconds.
The Boot Manager was also easy to use. As I don’t use Microsoft OneDrive, I decided to disable it from launching on startup. I used it on my girlfriend’s laptop — she had 18 programs that launched on startup, most of which she doesn’t use at all! So, we sat down and disabled all of the unnecessary ones, which reduced her laptop’s startup time (which was around 6 minutes) to about 60 seconds — this made her day.
The Defragmenter is used to improve the organization and speed of hard disks, thus improving a PC’s overall performance. It “defragmented” my 128 GB SSD hard drive in approximately 20 seconds, but I didn’t notice any significant boost in my PC performance — it already runs pretty fast.
VPN (Virtual Private Network)
VPNs are useful because they secure your internet connection — protecting your original IP address from being tracked by websites or hackers. They also enable you to access geo-restricted content, meaning you can stream exclusive shows released in almost any country in the world.
Panda’s VPN is powered by Hotspot Shield — a reputable VPN service provider.
The user interface is simplistic, but the functionality is a bit annoying — I had to manually disconnect first before selecting a new server location. VPNs that come with other antiviruses, like Norton’s Secure VPN, let you simply click on a new server location to have your connection relocated.
It’s also lacking essential features, like a killswitch — which helps protect privacy even if the VPN server connection is lost.
My test results were mixed. My first test showed average speeds below 4 Mbps, and there were also incredibly high ping times (the time it takes for a server to respond to a connection request).
But my second test showed the fastest VPN speed was around 13 Mbps download speed:
This is okay, but it’s nowhere near as fast as standalone VPNs like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
I also tested this VPN for DNS leaks, and while my tests showed that multiple servers could see my original IP address, Hotspot Shield’s website states that DNS leak tests fail to detect that the data running through Hotspot Shield’s VPN server is encrypted with AES 256-bit encryption — meaning IP addresses cannot be traced.
Overall, Panda’s VPN was okay, but not great. It lacks additional features that I consider essential, like a killswitch. Some other antiviruses include VPNs, and they all performed much better in my tests, in terms of speed, security, and overall functionality.
Panda Dome does come with a huge range of additional features, including:
- Parental controls. Basic website blocking options. Track your child’s location via their Android or iOS device.
- Data shield. Stops apps from accessing certain files — used to protect against ransomware.
- Password manager. Basic password manager. Doesn’t autosave credentials, and requires manual credentials input, which is very time consuming.
- Virtual keyboard. On-screen popup keyboard which safeguards keystrokes from potential keyloggers.
- Web protection. Phishing sites and malicious link detection and blocking.
- Anti-theft tools. Tracks location of Windows, Android, and iOS devices. Android users get lock and wipe features, too.
Unfortunately, some of the additional features (including the VPN) didn’t perform as I would’ve liked them to. Most of them had poor functionality and used outdated interfaces.
I like the idea of the virtual keyboard to safeguard my keystrokes from potential keyloggers, but the keys need to be made much bigger — they’re currently really small, making it really challenging to use. The password manager was very basic, and while I liked the file encryption tools that are included with it, I had to input all of my passwords and credentials manually, which was really time consuming.
Also, Panda seriously needs to address their phishing protection. It detected less than 50% of the phishing sites and malicious links in my tests — even obvious ones like fake PayPal and Amazon login pages managed to bypass the Safe Browsing feature.
However, Panda’s anti-theft tools were pretty decent. They included smartwatch compatibility for Android, so my girlfriend could locate her Galaxy S10 from a Wear OS watch and remotely lock it. And it also included an anti-theft motion sensor and thief photo capture — similar to McAfee’s CaptureCam. The iOS and PC anti-theft features only included location tracking — but it was very accurate when I tested it on my iPhone.
Overall, I’m happy with Panda’s virus and malware protection. I really like the file shredding and file encryption tools because they’re super easy to use. Rescue Kit is by far the most stand-out feature of the whole Panda Dome suite — it was useful when my brother’s PC needed disinfecting from multiple trojans and other malware.
But I’m not sold on some of the additional features, which definitely need to be updated to improve their functionality.
Panda Security Plans and Pricing
Panda is a bit expensive in comparison to other brands. While the most basic packages are fairly priced, they’re lacking in features that I consider essential, including ransomware protection and live customer support — which most other brands like Norton and McAfee include for free.
You can choose to protect 1, 3, 5, 10, or an unlimited number of devices. Panda does offer some pretty sizable discounts on the first year of protection. They also have a 30-day money-back policy, so you can try any Panda package risk-free for 30 days.
Panda Free Antivirus
Panda’s free antivirus is probably one of the best free PC antiviruses that I’ve tested.
- Antivirus scanning & real-time protection. Uses the same antivirus engine as the premium version of Panda. But real-time protection is only available for Windows devices.
- USB malware protection. Stops malware from being launched via USB devices.
- Gaming mode. Helps to not slow down PC performance while gaming or watching movies.
- Rescue Kit. The same rescue tools that come with the premium version of Panda — load a USB drive with Panda’s software and insert it into infected PCs.
It’s rare to have real-time scanning as a free feature — usually, it only comes with the premium version of antivirus software. And the free version’s scanning engine worked just as well in my tests as the premium version’s.
I was really happy to find that Panda also included the Rescue Kit in their free version. Again, it works exactly the same as it does on the premium version, and with no limitations.
Panda also offers a free version of its VPN with a 150 MB daily browsing data allowance.
That said, it is missing a lot of essential features, including the file encrypter, USB and external device scanning, ransomware protection, data shield, and parental controls.
Most Basic Premium Plan — Panda Dome Essential
Panda’s Dome Essential package is basically the free antivirus mentioned above, with a couple of added extras.
As well as the antivirus scanner, real-time protection, and Rescue Kit, this package includes:
- Real-time antivirus protection. Works with Windows, Mac, and Android devices.
- USB and external device scanning. Scans connected devices when they’re inserted into a PC.
- Wi-Fi network protection. Stops cybercriminals from hacking Wi-Fi connections.
Dome Essential also includes the free version of Panda’s VPN, with the 150 MB daily data allowance.
The price of Dome Essential for one device is fairly cheap in comparison to other brands’ basic packages. However, basic packages from competitors, like Norton and McAfee, do offer a couple more features for a similar price.
Best Value Plan — Panda Dome Advanced
Panda Dome Advanced includes all the features in the Dome Essential package, as well as:
- Ransomware and advanced threat protection.
- Identity theft protection.
- Parental controls.
While this package does offer additional tools, including ransomware protection, it’s only a little cheaper than Norton’s 360 Standard package — which includes more features like dark web monitoring, a password manager, and a VPN with unlimited browsing data.
However, the Norton 360 Standard package doesn’t include parental controls, so if you have a family, Panda Dome Advanced might be a good option for you.
Not Enough Value — Panda Dome Complete
This package has all of the features in the Dome Advanced package, and also includes:
- Data shield.
- PC optimization tools.
- Password manager.
- File encryption.
- File shredding.
While this package offers more features, I don’t think the password manager is worth the additional cost.
Also, coverage for 1 device is still more expensive than Norton’s 360 Deluxe package — which offers complete protection and unlimited VPN data for up to 5 devices.
Most Advanced Plan — Panda Dome Premium
This is the package that I tested on my home office PC. As well as all of the previously mentioned features, Panda Dome Premium includes:
- VPN. With unlimited browsing data.
- 24/7 premium customer support. With live chat and phone support.
One year of protection for one device using this plan is significantly more expensive than most other competing brands.
It does include unlimited VPN data, but as I’ve discussed in this review, the VPN is not the best. While 24/7 customer support is usually useful, my experience with it wasn’t good, and I think 24/7 support should automatically be included with all plans, like how Norton does it.
But if I was to choose one of Panda’s packages for all-around protection, I would choose Panda Dome Premium.
Panda Security Ease of Use and Setup
Panda is one of the easier antiviruses to use. People without much technical experience will be able to make full use of all of the additional features.
Panda didn’t take long to install. From start to finish, it took around me 10 minutes.
I really liked the home screen display. It’s well-laid out, with big buttons for each feature — something that makes it simple for novice users. I let my non-technical girlfriend test it, and she found it very easy-to-use. She also liked the display’s background images.
Most importantly, she also found it easy to start a full system scan, ensure real-time protection was on, and operate the device optimization tools.
One thing that me and my little brother both like about Panda is the gaming mode. The gaming mode is turned on automatically whenever I go into full screen mode to either start a game or watch a movie. As my brother is an avid gamer, I got him to try the gaming mode using the free version of Panda, and he said the antivirus system didn’t slow down his gaming PC when playing Fornite or Counter Strike.
Rescue Kit was actually very simple to set up and use — I plugged in my USB drive, followed the instructions, and it was complete in less than 60 seconds. My little brother said “that Rescue Kit thing literally saved my life” when we used my Rescue Kit USB drive to rescue his PC from a malware attack.
As I’ve already mentioned previously, I wasn’t entirely happy with some of the additional features, including the VPN, password manager, web protection, and others. If Panda was able to improve the functionality, speeds, and security of their VPN, and ensure the web protection actually protects me from malicious links, then I would place Panda as one of my favorite antiviruses that I’ve ever used — solely because of its scanning engine and Rescue Kit.
Panda Security Mobile App
My girlfriend and I split the task of testing the Panda app — I tested the iOS version and she tested the Android version on her Galaxy S10.
The Panda iOS app was very basic, and nothing like the other ones I’ve tested. It includes:
- The VPN.
- Device tracking tools.
There are options to contact customer support and to view your account, but both options redirect you to the Panda website. The device location tracking was accurate, and the app has a nice design, but I feel that it’s more style over substance. I’d much rather use the McAfee or Avira iOS app.
However, my girlfriend quite liked Panda’s Android app when she tested it. The real-time antivirus scanner picked up on all of the malware that she purposely downloaded onto her device.
The Android app also includes:
- Anti-theft tools. Locate, lock, and wipe a device remotely. You can also sound an alert to help find a device and capture images of potential thieves.
- Device optimization tools. Speeds up device performance by removing unnecessary processes.
- Privacy auditing. Assesses app permission, such as access to photos, contacts, and location data.
The app also has smartwatch connectivity for Wear OS watches, which is found in other antivirus apps like Bitdefender’s mobile app. It lets you remotely sound an alert to emit from your Android, and your watch will vibrate when you go out of range from your device. It also allows you to take pictures on your Android using your smartwatch — something that Bitdefender’s app doesn’t offer.
Overall, Panda’s apps are okay. While I wouldn’t use the Panda iOS app, the Android app was actually pretty good. However, my girlfriend does prefer some other Android antivirus apps she’s tested.
Panda Security Customer Support
My experience with customer support wasn’t great. They currently only offer live chat and phone support for Panda Dome Premium users — which is a shame for people paying for the other packages. Other users only have the option of a clunky email support request form that has to be accessed via Panda’s website.
That said, the premium customer support is 24/7 — meaning it guarantees a response no matter the time of day.
The responses I received when I tested both the email and live chat support were pretty bad overall. And they took a long time to respond. I understand email responses may be delayed, but the live chat support took over 1 hour 30 minutes to respond to my messages.
In most cases, it seemed like the representatives didn’t really know what they were talking about, or that they couldn’t be bothered to answer my question properly — instead, they were just responding with FAQ links that didn’t fully answer my questions.
Only one live chat representative was helpful and concise with their response to my question about the gaming mode. All the others were very unhelpful, choosing not answer certain (basic) questions, and were giving me wrong information about Panda’s features — that I had to correct them on!
Overall, I’m disappointed with my customer support experience, especially as I had purchased the most expensive package to access live support. It’s also disappointing that Panda doesn’t offer customer support for all paying users — most other antiviruses, like Norton, offer both live chat and phone support for all users.
Is Panda Security Worth the Money in 2020?
Panda’s best features include:
- Antivirus protection and ransomware removal.
- Rescue Kit.
- File encryption and file shredding.
- Parental controls.
Panda’s antivirus scanning engine worked almost perfectly in my tests, blocking 100% of the ransomware samples and around 95% of the malware samples on my device.
I really liked the device optimization tools — they’re fast and easy to use. The display is really nice and easy to navigate, meaning my non-technical girlfriend could easily access each feature when she tested it.
My favorite feature by far (and my little brother’s, too) is the Rescue Kit — something I think all PC users should consider when looking for an antivirus. I also liked how Panda made it really easy for me to encrypt and decrypt sensitive files and completely erase unwanted files containing private information using the file shredding tool — meaning hackers can’t use advanced methods to recover these files.
However, I felt let down by the functionality of many additional features, including the password manager and VPN — the VPN was super slow and not fully secure when I tested it. The web protection failed to block most of the phishing links that I tested it against — even very obvious phishing sites that were mimicking Amazon and PayPal login pages.
The reasons I wouldn’t use Panda include:
- Poor phishing and malicious link detection results.
- Slow VPN with certain IP address security flaws.
- Bad customer support experiences.
- Unintuitive additional features, including the password manager.
While the free version of Panda is decent, I think many of the premium packages are too expensive. Other brands like Norton and McAfee offer similar protection for more devices with a better range of features for cheaper.
However, with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, it’s 100% worth trying any of the Panda Dome packages risk-free to see if they’re the best antivirus for you.
Panda Dome — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Panda Dome safe?
Panda Dome is 100% safe to use. It is a legitimate antivirus software that uses advanced technology to block the latest malware and cyberattacks.
Panda is designed to protect against the latest threats, including:
- Malicious URLs.
- And more…
It’s easy to use and contains a huge range of additional features, including parental controls, device optimization tools, a VPN, a password manager, file encryption, and file shredding tools.
But there are a few things you should know about Panda Dome before you consider trying it.
Does Panda Dome work on Macs?
Yes, Panda does have a macOS version of its software.
- Antivirus scanning.
- Web protection.
- Integrated VPN.
But it wasn’t good enough to make it on our 5 best Mac antiviruses list. The antivirus scans are extremely slow and the software is missing a lot of the additional features that makes Panda’s PC version great — including the Rescue Kit, parental controls, file shredding and file encryption tools, and more.
If you’re looking for complete Mac protection, you should try Intego.
Does Panda Dome really offer a 100% malware detection rate?
While Panda’s antivirus scanning engine performed well in my malware tests, it didn’t score a 100% detection rate in all instances.
It did manage to:
- Detect 95% of all of the non-executed malware sample files during the full system scan.
- Block 100% of the executed ransomware samples (including WannaCry ransomware).
- Removed 100% of the pre-installed spyware.
Panda’s separate cloud-based scanning tool, named “Panda Cloud Cleaner”, did provide a more advanced system scan — detecting deep-rooted suspicious files. But even when I tested it with the same folder of malware samples used in the original antivirus tests, it still didn’t detect some of the files.
So even though Panda Dome didn’t have a 100% detection rate against all types of malware, the most destructive files, including ransomware, were blocked and removed safely. But there are a few more reasons why Panda’s scanning engine is so effective.
Is Panda VPN safe to use?
Panda’s VPN is safe to use. It’s powered by the well-known VPN provider, Hotspot Shield. It secures your connection and protects your IP address from being tracked.
Panda’s VPN also includes:
- A strict no-logs policy. Meaning they do not log your browsing activity or IP address.
- AES 256-bit encryption. Which encrypts all traffic processed through the VPN.
- Multiple device support. Secures connections on up to 5 devices simultaneously.
Although some DNS leak testing tools suggested that my IP address was visible, Hotspot Shield states that these tools fail to detect that all traffic processed through the VPN is fully secured using AES 256-bit encryption.
However, when I tested the average speed of the VPN, it wasn’t what I was expecting compared to other VPNs that I’ve tested. It’s also limited in terms of server locations and functionality, so you really need to know if Panda’s VPN will be good for you before buying it.